The View from Bolton Street

“I invite you to a Holy Lent”


These words, from the invitation on Ash Wednesday, invite all of us into this peculiar season of the church year.  Some of you are thinking “Lent already?” Others “Should I give up coffee or chocolate?” and others are thinking “What even IS Lent?” All good questions to be sure — but Lent is much more than giving something up or taking something on or a time to "be sad." Lent is a season of preparation, a season to prepare us to celebrate the Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.  And for our eventual resurrection in the last days. 


For some that may mean a season of fasting and repentance for our individual and collective sins and trespasses. For others it may mean a slow walk back to church and to faith after a time away.  And for some it may mean a time of celebration and rejoicing because the Kingdom of God is finally coming near. Lent is expressed very differently in different communities — depending on their own history, collective experience, and future path.  


I invite you to reflect a bit on your own ,journey of faith.  If Jesus were to come back tomorrow what would change in your life?  Would you be called to repentance? To deeper prayer? To celebrate? To exercise more?  This is a deeply personal question — and one that you may want to spend some time with. Perhaps your journey begins at a simpler place. What does it mean to be "resurrected"? What do I believe about Jesus? 


These are good and faithful questions, worth exploring this Lent.  Deacon Vaughn and our intern Bruno will be working through many of these issues during Liturgy and Living, and we will shortly be announcing an adult "seekers" class for those who would like to spend a little more time discovering (or rediscovering) their faith this season. 


However you chose to mark this Lent, I hope you will find some time to move beyond physical acts of self-sacrifice, and move a little deeper into the spiritual and theological realm of "What do I believe?" and "What does that mean?"


Welcome to Lent. 

Environmental Epiphany Wrap-up

Environmental Epiphanies live on in Lent


The arrival of Ash Wednesday and Lent mean that our Environmental Epiphany film series has come to a close.  Different movies spoke to different people in ways that are difficult to predict.  We shared a lot of great conversations over supper after each movie, and in families and at church and around the neighborhood.  Sharon Krieger was “blown away” by Before the Flood, and wants to show all the movies at Breakfast Club.  The Fisher-Griffith family is reevaluating its relationship with plastic.  My husband Matthew, never motivated by the health benefits of organic food, sees the moral imperative of buying local and organic to protect and nourish the soil.


Some other epiphanies for us from watching the films:


The evidence in Chasing Ice of climate change causing glaciers to melt is incontrovertible – and the film is spectacularly beautiful.  This is probably the best film to watch with your climate-skeptic relatives.


Before the Flood alerted us to harm caused by a ubiquitous ingredient in processed foods and household products:  palm oil, the demand for which is driving deforestation in Indonesia.  A growing list of companies has committed to using only sustainably sourced palm oil.  We are glad to note that Ferrero, which makes the Nutella we serve at coffee hour, is one of them.  So read the ingredients before you buy, and then consult the list.  


Another epiphany from Before the Flood:  eating lower on the food chain, especially avoiding beef, is one of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint.  Maybe that old Lenten custom of abstaining from meat can also help us save the planet.


A Plastic Ocean is devastating.  Plastic never breaks down; it only breaks up into a million pieces that foul our oceans and kill wildlife.  How about giving up single use plastic for Lent?  That’s a pretty huge challenge:  plastic bags, take-out dishes, plastic utensils, water bottles, plastic wrap, even straws at what we thought were classy restaurants.  So maybe we pick one item, or one week or one day.  Some alternatives:  bring your own carryout containers; carry a reusable water bottle or mug; use wax paper or wax paper bags from snack or cereal boxes; invest in etee reusable waxed cloth as an alternative to plastic wrap.


Styrofoam (more accurately expanded polystyrene foam) is particularly pernicious.  It’s a magnet for toxins, breaks up easily and quickly, and is ingested by wildlife, and the toxins bioaccumulate.  We have opportunities now to ban Styrofoam both in Baltimore City and in Maryland.  Call or write your legislators and City Council representative to support the ban. 


An Inconvenient Sequel gave us renewed hope that we can be like Al Gore, inconvenient prophetic voices picking ourselves up from defeat and bringing the message that we need to do everything we can to save this one planet that God created.  And we can be part of the renewable energy revolution:  by signing on for 100% windpower through Groundswell, (giving Memorial a modest referral fee); or by installing solar panels, as Pam and Guy have; or by investing in community solar.  And join Bishop Sutton in supporting Maryland legislation to increase the percentage of renewables in our electricity supply.


Dirt! The Movie has particular resonance for us on Ash Wednesday, when we are reminded that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.  Dust, dirt, soil, all full of living organisms , too often trapped under asphalt, choked with pesticides, overloaded with fertilizers that run off and choke the Chesapeake.  We need to liberate and replenish our soil by tearing up pavement, opening up more tree pits, composting, and growing and eating real food.  


Our suppers after the movies gave us a laboratory for trying out a mostly reusable approach to hospitality at Memorial.  We used real silverware, real ceramic bowls for soup, and mugs and glasses for tea and water.  A bussing station with a large tub of hot water for bowls and a small bin for silverware made cleanup relatively easy.  Yes, we did use paper plates and napkins, and a few paper cups where we didn’t have enough glasses, but we created a lot less waste than usual.  Now the question is: can Memorial give up plasticware for Lent?


Thank you to everyone who made this series possible:  Vaughn Vigil, our projectioner; Olivia Lewis and Martha Donovan for contributing delicious soups; Brinley Fisher and Nampoina Randrianavelo, our standby childcare providers; Pam Fleming and Guy Hollyday, who stayed to help clean up every week; my husband Matthew Stremba, who composted our food waste; and especially Dick Williams, my co-conspirator in planning, setting up and cleaning up.


If you missed out on seeing the films in the comfort of Upper Farnham Hall, no worries.  We own all five movies on DVD, so they can be borrowed from the Church Office.  And they are all available at the Enoch Pratt Library’s central branch (once it reopens next week!)  Borrow a DVD, and invite friends or neighbors over to watch a movie and start a conversation.  You might also want to consider some of the movies we didn’t choose to show, but can still recommend:


Chasing Coral, 2017, 93 min, vanishing coral and ocean ecosystems

From the Ashes, 2017, 81 min, coal industry

The Last Mountain, 2011, 1:35; found at Pratt, Mountaintop removal

Gasland, 2010, 1:45 (fracking)

Gasland Part II, 2013, 2:05 (more fracking)

Beautiful Swimmers Revisited, MPT, 2016, 57 min, Chesapeake

City of Trees, 2015, 76 min, tree planting in DC


Finally, a look ahead to next year.  We think we’ve found a good format (movie in UFH, followed by supper discussion) at the right time (Saturdays at 5 pm) in the right season for a film series.  Maybe next year we could have an Education Epiphany?  Or a Racial Epiphany?  Or more broadly a Justice Epiphany series?  It’s a great way to spark conversation and community and change.

A Thank You from The Maggianos

From the Rector:

As Monica, Isabella, Nicolas, and I return from our hiatus, I want to offer an expression of gratitude to our senior warden, Beth Casey, our departing and incoming junior wardens, Monty Howard and Bill Roberts, the clergy who have stepped in while I was out — Vaughn, Ted, Ken, and Bradley, Edward and Erin and the worship committee, and to Amy, and Nampoina and to all the parents that have made Sunday school happen in my absence.  As well as Bruno for his work in keeping our Bible study and Liturgy and Living programs going. 


I can’t possibly thank everyone here — but thanks also to all who brought food, sent cards, came to the service, or prayed for us over the last month.  We still covet your prayers, but are very happy to be back in your midst as we enter into Lent.  


Thanks to all of you. You continue to prove what Memorial is all about and why this is a special community that truly can do anything it puts it mind and heart to.

James Blue at Roland Park Country School

Join James Blue, Senior Content and Special Projects Producer for PBS NewsHour and late of Memorial Episcopal, as he shares his insight and experience during a lecture entitled, "The Character is the the Details: Over 25 Years of Telling Stories Around the World." 

The Anne Healy Chair of English Language and Literature Lecture is a free event, March 22, 2018 at 7 pm at Roland Park Country School. You must RSVP, however, to attend.


RSVP by calling 410 323 5501 


February Book Club 2018

We had a great meeting in January.  There have been some changes to dates and books for February.


In February we will be reading The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott (Selected by Pat)

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On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens the gas taps in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove—to the subway bosses who have recently fired him, to his badgering, pregnant wife—“that the hours of his life belong to himself alone.” In the aftermath of the fire that follows, Sister St. Savior, an aging nun, appears, unbidden, to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child.

The meeting will be Feb 20 at 7:30 in the church Library. Those who wish can meet at the Dizz beforehand for dinner.

NOTE: Both the book and date for February have changed. 

There will be no meeting in March. 

The April Meeting will be on April 10th where we will discuss The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas by Frederick Douglas (Selected by Gus)


Born into a family of slaves, Frederick Douglass educated himself through sheer determination. His unconquered will to triumph over his circumstances makes his one of America’s best and most unlikely success stories. Douglass’ own account of his journey from slave to one of America’s great statesmen, writers, and orators is as fascinating as it is inspiring.


Looking forward to seeing you in Feb.

The view from Bolton St.

For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

2 Corinthians 4:6 


Friends, thank you for your prayers, meals, cards and above all your patience as we process the loss of my mother. Monica, Isabella, Nicolas and I will be back in church this week and I will be back in the pulpit. 


Why this weekend you might ask? Because in the Episcopal Church the last Sunday of Epiphany (the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent) is also a celebration of the Transfiguration- the moment Jesus goes up the mountain with his disciples and is “transfigured” in a blinding light — the same story that is depicted in the large painting above our Altar. 


It also, as it happens, is one of my favorite stories and I believe an important text for our community and our city  right now. Perhaps we could all use a Transfiguration moment. 


So I hope you will join us on Sunday for a few years perhaps, but also for some hope and inspiration, and the beginning of a new path forward — towards God and away from whatever you need to leave behind - for us, for our church and for the whole city.

Children's Chapel Bake Sale to buy a lamb

This Sunday, February 11, our children will be spending Children's Chapel setting up for a bake sale. This particular bake sale is in support of Memorial's purchase of a lamb through Heifer International, in memory of Laurie Anne Maggiano. Laurie was a big supporter of Heifer International, often donating to purchase multiple animals in honor of friends and family.

How can you help? Bake something! Buy something! Do both! The kids will be bringing something, but we can all join in - everything baked is welcome, so long as it can be portioned. For more information, please contact Amy RIal. Paul Seaton will be on hand with his trusty Square device so we can even take credit cards. 

Our goal is $120 - the cost of one lamb. Please consider bringing something to sell, as well as buying something to take home (you can even buy your own stuff back...).

The children of Memorial thank you for your support.

Circles of Influence at Brown Memorial

This Sunday at 2pm at Brown Memorial, you are urged to learn how Memorial and its leadership can influence change in community social norms and public policies to promote good stewardship of the Earth.  Anoint yourself a leader.  Attend this workshop by One Water Partnership Jones Falls (Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake).  To register, please click here.  Or, if last minute, just show up.


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Connect Ministry

Connect is a ministry of Meditation and Prayer that meets the first Wednesday of every month at 7PM, usually in the Upper Parish Hall. Everyone who attends brings a vegetarian food offering, a volunteer brings a reading (for meditation), and we each bring a prayer intention which is combined into one set of prayers that we keep for the remainder of the month. In other words, Connect is Fellowship, meditation and prayer. Our meditations are often more spiritual than religious. For the regulars, Connect forms an important element of a spiritual life.

Connect began in 2006 as part of a newcomer’s ministry. Some of its original members had just finished an adult confirmation class who wanted to continue to meet, and so we have continued for 12 years. For more information, or if you are interested in meeting with us, contact its convener, Paul Seaton (